It was going to take an awe-inspiring effort for Matt Garza not to be named the Bank of America American League Player of the Week after he'd tossed the first no-hitter in Rays history last week.
Enter Jose Bautista. An eye-popping week at the plate by the Jays slugger earned him a share of the weekly honors along with Garza, whose no-hitter was nothing short of historic in and of itself. The two joined Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, named the National League's Player of the Week, as the week's honorees.
Despite being the fifth no-hitter of the season, Garza's effort was nothing short of spectacular. Save a second-inning walk that was later erased by a double play, Garza was flawless. He threw 80 of his 120 pitches for strikes, retiring six batters via strikeout. But even with the biggest of accomplishments approaching, Garza was more focused on getting the win for his Rays, as they are fighting for a playoff spot down the stretch.
"It's great I was the first one to do it [in Rays history]," Garza said. "It's a young franchise, and I have a feeling they're going to have many more to come. But I can't put enough emphasis on how big the win was. We are trying to win the [AL] East. We're not just trying to win a couple of games -- we're trying to win the East and make it known."
But Garza wasn't done for the week. He added an outing against the team the Rays will have to top in the East, the Yankees. He struck out nine batters but took a no-decision after allowing four runs. His no-hitter feat, though, was enough to earn accolades.
But Bautista's offensive outburst simply couldn't be ignored. The All-Star hit an astounding .545 with five homers and 13 RBIs during the week. He finished July with a Major League-leading 11 homers -- making him the first Blue Jay to lead the Majors in at least two calendar months in home runs after finishing May with 12.
"He's been on some kind of tear," his manager, Cito Gaston, said. "Great for him. He's a great teammate around here with these guys and just a great guy to manage. You can't say anything bad about Bautista. Everything I see and everything that he does around here is all good."
Bautista's offensive prowess is no doubt impressive, but the power numbers are becoming more routine for the slugger, who has hit more homers (41) than any player dating back to the beginning of September 2009.
"We think Jose Bautista has obviously had a great year," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "He's a player that I think the world of. There is no question that, when you look at the way he's played for this organization, for this team, the things he's done in the clubhouse, he's an important part to it."
If anyone could match Bautista's power output last week though, it was Gonzalez.
The 24-year-old launched homers in four consecutive contests last week, hitting at a .533 clip over the week. He led the NL with a 1.067 slugging percentage, and his 32 total bases were tops in the Majors.
And on Saturday night, an even rarer feat was accomplished, as Gonzalez became one of only five players in Major League history to hit a walk-off homer to cap their cycle.
"It was just magic," said Gonzalez, who suddenly finds himself amid a race for the NL batting title, with a .321 average. "I never thought I'd finish the game with a home run and finish with the cycle."
His teammates expressed their belief that Saturday's events were just a microcosm of what Gonzalez has brought to the team all year long.
"Big-time players show up in big-time moments," closer Huston Street said. "To hit a walk-off home run and seal the deal on your cycle -- cycles don't happen. They don't happen in baseball. ... He's just that good, and he's an exciting player."
Bailey Stephens is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.